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Thursday, 29 October 2009
Page: 7570

Senator WORTLEY (9:47 AM) —I seek leave to make a short statement.

The PRESIDENT —Is leave granted? Leave is granted for two minutes.

Senator WORTLEY —I am pleased to support Senator Fielding’s motion with the additional term of reference inserted and welcome his interest in the disturbing practice of workplace injury management and rehabilitation at Australia Post. Australia Post has come under increasing criticism from the community and has had many individual cases raised by the relevant union, the CEPU, about the way the organisation manages the claims in cases of sick and injured employees who have sustained work related injuries. Labor has long been concerned that, through various measures taken by Australia Post management including the use of facility nominated doctors, employees’ rights to workers compensation entitlements and workplace rehabilitation are being undermined. Indeed, Labor acknowledged this at our most recent national conference and resolved to implement this very inquiry. It is good to see that Senator Fielding is such an avid reader of Labor policy documents and the Hansard of previous budget estimates hearings. It makes a nice change to the dirt-digging, fear and smear driven policy void of those opposite.

Chapter 11 of our policy document New ways of governing for a stronger democracy contains a resolution that the federal government undertake an independent inquiry into these alarming circumstances. Since coming to this place I along with other Labor senators and the minister have raised this matter regularly with Australia Post through the process of estimates. I have become aware of apparently legitimate compensation claims being denied on the recommendation of the facility nominated doctors, allegations of sick and injured workers having their symptoms questioned or ignored by Australia Post managers and of harassment by management following workplace injuries. I am concerned about the incentives that the facility nominated doctors process gives Australia Post management. One of the matters I believe this inquiry should look at is the interplay between salary bonus policies and achieving low lost-time injury markers. (Time expired)